53 ‘prayer warrior’ women answer Mary’s invitation

Photo Caption: Gail Mary Cummings places a crown of flowers on the statue of Mary during the DCCW day of reflection May 7 at King’s House, Henry.

By: By Jennifer Willems

HENRY — Not only does prayer allow people to grow in relationship with God and the Mother of God, but it deepens relationships with others and increases knowledge of self, according to Father Luke Poczworowski, OFM Conv.

“When you pray with someone, you add another dimension to that particular person,” Father Luke told the 53 women who gathered at King’s House in rural Henry on May 7 for a day of reflection sponsored by the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.

“As you come to know more and more about your faith and about the Blessed Mother, you will also get to know more about what’s inside of you,” he said during the day, which included a meditation on the rosary, Mass, a May crowning, eucharistic adoration and Benediction.

The May queen was Gail Mary Cummings of St. Philomena’s Parish in Peoria, who used a crown of flowers made by the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary of King’s House.

The pastor of St. Mary’s in Wenona, St. John’s in Lostant, and St. Patrick’s in Minonk, Father Luke acknowledged that life has gotten very busy and everyone wants to “get off the merry-go-round” from time to time. That doesn’t just happen, however.

“No one can do it unless you do it for yourself,” he said, asking the women to consider the ways they take time for themselves, for their health, and for prayer and reflection.

“We find time for special TV programs. We spend time running to the mall or to the store and some of us even find time for little cat naps or power naps and that’s OK,” Father Luke said, as long as they also find more ways to do what they were doing at King’s House.

Noting that the day was actually an invitation to grow and pray, he said that Mary was also extending an invitation.

“Becoming aware of the Blessed Mother’s personal invitation for you through reflection, in listening to your own thoughts and feelings, and seeing how you want to respond takes a lot of courage,” Father Luke explained.

“We shouldn’t be ashamed and we shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about Mary,” he told them.

“I know you sometimes talk with your nieces or your nephews or your grandchildren and they say, ‘Here we go again.’ But they know who the prayer warriors are,” Father Luke said. “You are a prayer warrior.”

The people in their lives might laugh at them for the way they pray, he said, but they are the first ones to get a call when something happens.

Mary is a wonderful advocate because she is also a prayer warrior who will take their prayers and concerns to her Son, Father Luke said, assuring them that she understands where they are coming from.

“Though she was full of grace, she had to go through all that we do,” he said. “We can’t say that she didn’t understand what it was like to lose a child. Yes, she did.”

And while she must have laughed with Jesus, she also watched him suffer.

“It’s important, as we honor Mary, that we see that her successes came from her daily struggles,” Father Luke said.

Raised with a great devotion to the Blessed Mother that was fostered by the women religious in his school on Chicago’s South Side and strengthened by his religious community, Father Luke called Mary “the best dressed woman in the whole world.”

“Every culture loves her and dresses her in their garb,” he said, showing the women a portrait of Our Lady of Czestochowa that his grandmother brought from Poland. Made of straw, it shone like gold in its frame.

“Don’t be ashamed to talk about Mary,” Father Luke emphasized. “She isn’t ashamed to talk about you.”

During his homily at Mass, he also encouraged them to do what they needed to do to let people know who God is and what they believe. In order to do that, they will need to continue to take time for themselves that includes quiet time with God.

That may mean sitting in their car in the parking lot at work or spending a few moments in the garage before they going into the house to start dinner, Father Luke said.

“You’ll want more of it,” he promised them.

The day of reflection drew women from 15 parishes, including Sacred Heart, Annawan; St. John’s, Lostant; St. Patrick’s, Minonk; St. Patrick’s, St. Columba’s and St. Mary’s of Naplate, all in Ottawa; St. Joseph’s, Pekin; Holy Family, St. Jude’s, St. Mark’s, St. Philomena’s and St. Vincent de Paul, all in Peoria; St. Ann’s, Toluca; St. Elizabeth’s, Washburn; St. Mary’s, Wenona; and St. John’s, Woodhull.

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